As so often is the case with us here in Ditcheat, after the mad dash through Christmas and the New Year we have, in racing terms, taken a pull and let our foot slightly off the gas.

The jump season proper is a long one for us and for the horses that have worked so hard in their races up to the New Year, so the first couple of weeks of January represent a time for them to refresh and take a small break before the demands that February, March and April require of them. Before you think we have shut the gates and closed down however, I can assure you that things on the track for the number of horses we are still running are all rosy, with Lifeboat Mona providing the excellent highlight of the weekend when running out the convincing winner of a valuable Listed mares event at Sandown.

Mona wasn’t the simplest to train last year with some minor frustrating issues holding up her progress. But, as Saturday proved, when on song she is well above average. Her slick jumping allied with her excellent turn of foot once again brought her to the fore. She really is a sweetheart and from saddling her, to riding her, to all her adoring Axom owners making a fuss of her afterwards, she is gentle and kind mannered throughout which make her an absolute joy to have anything to do with.

Mona celebrated by spending the whole day in the field yesterday (Sunday) along with her friends, Tagrita, Antarctica De Thaix, Viky De Reponet and Jessber’s Dream. Turning our mares out is something we endeavour to do everyday after they have trained and, with their results continuing to impress, it seems field time is extremely well earned.

Oscar a winner, but Capitaine will bounce back

It wasn’t Capitaine‘s day against the imposing Finian’s Oscar but we were far from deflated, preferring to focus on how well he stayed on up the hill even after a typical Sandown mistake two hurdles from home. I’ve said before how much I like Capitaine and Saturday’s result changed absolutely nothing; he is a beautiful horse who will get plenty excited when he jumps fences next year.

Away from the track and as I’ve said, not much is going on in Ditcheat, bar the usual 128 horses being ridden out every morning. Everyone is working hard and the yard is a happy place as we looking forward to the coming weeks.

Looking ahead to this week, we will be primarily competitive on two days, Wednesday and Saturday. A horse I’m looking forward to is the dual winning point-to-pointer that goes by the name of Overland Flyer. He is a big strong son of Westerner who will be a chaser for next year (excuse the cliché) but I like his temperament and hope he’ll show he’s well worth following for the coming months.